Minnesota leads on solar for pollinators and crops

2016 was the first year of Minnesota’s solar bloom — but there’s plenty more to come. While even more solar sites are planned to be built in the years ahead, tens of millions of native flowers and short-growing meadow grasses will be taking root under and around the panels. Look for black-eyed susans to develop faster than the rest, followed by purple prairie clover, partridge pea, butterfly weed, and more.

Xcel community solar turns two

As the market potential and popularity of community solar grows nationally, all eyes are on Minnesota. Why are so few projects up and running? How real is the 800MW queue? Is the program sustainable? At the two year anniversary of Xcel Energy’s community solar program launch, we’re taking a deep dive on the health of the program today and its potential going forward.

Partnering with Great River Energy on our path to electrify the economy

As a utility with an energy mix that’s more than 70 percent coal, GRE’s leadership took the courageous step to seek out external stakeholders for deep engagement and advice. It conducted a process with the Great Plains Institute to “hear all the voices”, such as its largest industrial customers, lenders, regulators, and advocates (including me) seeking to reduce society’s dependence on fossil fuels. Based in part on those conversations, Great River Energy began to make very strategic shifts in their business, resulting in at least six big decisions over the past several years that Fresh Energy applauds as leadership worthy of national recognition.

Farmer holding kid

Property rights protected by Minnesota regulators

Today, Minnesota regulators ruled in favor of consumers and their property rights when it comes to generating their own solar power. The issue at hand was a customer complaint brought to the Public Utilities Commission after the customer felt he was denied his rights to be compensated for generating his own energy under Minnesota law. The customer’s utility – Minnesota Valley Light and Power Association in Montevideo – had attempted to pay nothing for a significant amount of electricity and other system benefits his solar system would provide back to the grid.